Written by Barb Sieminski
Livi Slattery remembers June 2012 all too vividly.
“My son Aiden was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma at the age of three,” said Slattery, who with husband Tom also has a 5-year-old son Brody.
“He was a very spunky, energetic toddler. He began complaining of his right leg hurting, and it got to the point where we would have to carry him around the house because it hurt for him to walk on it. After tests at Parkview proved inconclusive, we were sent to the infectious disease wing at Riley in Indy.
“We were brought into a conference room with a circle of doctors telling us Aiden had Stage 4 cancer, after which they began aggressive treatment. Months of chemo, radiation and a stem-cell transplant followed. Ultimately, the hard-hitting cancer treatments saved his life, with one caveat: he ended up with some hearing loss.”
This distressing news turned the family upside down all around, said Slattery.
“We were beginning to have an avalanche of emotions in our house because Aiden would get frustrated because he couldn’t hear what we were asking of him, which consequently resulted in discipline for what we thought was him not listening. At school, he got in trouble for talking to other students around him instead of listening to the teacher, because he simply couldn’t hear her.”
Aiden’s loss was a mixture of both sensorineural and conductive, which means there may be damage in both the inner and outer ear but, as the loss was in certain frequencies, he has not needed an interpreter.
Asked how the family had learned about HearCare Connection, Slattery said after Aiden’s Medicaid coverage changed, “We were referred by ENT on the Dupont Hospital campus. Their staff recommended them highly.
“Aiden who got his hearing devices in Kindergarten is now in first grade at Northcrest Elementary, and there has been a complete turnaround in his behavior.
“Before that, when he watched TV, he would have the volume all the way up to 50, just to hear properly. With his aids in, thankfully, there is no need for additional volume. He is also able to talk on the phone and carry on a pretty decent conversation.”
If Aiden is outdoors or out of voice range, how does Slattery summon him?
“I am usually able to yell his name at a moderate level to get his attention from another room or outside,” said Slattery.
Aiden himself is a big fan of his hearing devices, saying, “What I like best about my hearing aids is that I can hear again with them a lot better than right now. They help me listen better.”
Some of his friends wish they had hearing aids, too, said Aiden.
The family has a budding musician, it would seem: Aiden has taken several months of drum lessons. He also has, “a very well-loved acoustic guitar,” said Slattery, adding that her son plays and practices, “all by ear, and he got the hearing devices after he started playing musical instruments. He is even starting to write lyrics.”
When not involved in music, Aiden can be found playing Pokemon and Minecraft, and also has a huge enthusiasm for firefighters and the job they do. His other passion is Sadie, the family’s 2-year-old mixed breed obtained from the shelter last year.
“Aiden absolutely loves her and plays tug of war, fetch, and enjoys training her with treats,” said Slattery.
Finally, his family would no doubt agree that Aiden is living his life fully thanks to his hearing aids, as described by these words: “Hope is hearing the music in the future. Faith is dancing to the music now.”